Ending a marriage with another person is already as hard as it gets, and adding children to that equation can overcomplicate things so much more since they can be used as bargaining chips by the parents. Each parent starts building a case against the other in order to drain them as much as possible and complicate their lives further, which can lead to some really petty behaviors that are very childish and immature.
Client once called me with an "emergency." the emergency was that his soon to be ex wife fed the kid chef boyardee for dinner.
I went to law school for this.
The interim court order said that my client (the mom) was not to discuss the court proceedings with the child. During an access visit the child asked her "when will I get to see you again?" and my client responded, "we'll have to see, but hopefully soon."
The father then argued that this was "discussing the court proceedings with the child" and tried using it as an excuse to deny any further access.
I am a lawyer who handles eviction defense. A man came to my office because he was being evicted from his own house.
Who was evicting him? His girlfriend. He had signed a house over to his girlfriend to illegally hide the asset from his wife and kids (and court) during a divorce.
His wife didn't know about the house. After the divorce, he moved into the house. When the new girlfriend got mad at him, he discovered that it's not a good idea to give your house away.
I didn't take the case.
Repeatedly taking the kids to CPS and trying to get them to accuse a teenager of rape. Every medical record makes it clear that the mother was the only one doing any talking. What's worse, she was a social worker trained to interview child sex victims professionally.
As an intern, I saw a couple have long, hateful emails about who was going to keep a unisex Armani hoodie. Almost all of their discussions centered on that one hoodie. When in the end the husband got to keep it, the wife cut holes into it which ruined it. It was pretty nice tbh.
In law school I did some intern work for a family law clinic. Most of my clients were pretty reasonable, but when waiting for my cases to be heard in the hearing room, I saw some really petty and terrible shit from other parties. But one case stood out as the worst.
One guy who got custody of the family dog in the divorce, said that if he didn't get more visitation with the children he would have the dog euthanized. His excuse was that without the kids there, the dog wouldn't get the attention it needed and was better off dead.
The ex-wife made an impassioned plea before the judge, showing pictures of the kids playing with the dog and video testimony from the kids expressing their love for it. It was 100% clear they would be devastated if the dog was put down. While the judge was very sympathetic, and tried asking the ex-husband to be reasonable, in the end her hands were tied, since the dog was the ex-husband's property per the divorce agreement, and he was free to do whatever he wanted, provided it comported with state anti-cruelty laws.
In the end she relented to give him custody rights basically every weekend of the month in order to save the kids' dog.
To the judge's credit, she gave the ex husband a verbal haranguing like I've never seen in all my years of practicing law since. She warned him that she would be watching this case very closely and would not hesitate referring it to a criminal prosecutor if he slips up in any way either towards the treatment of the dog or the kids. And that if anything happens to that dog, she would fast track a hearing to revisit his visitation rights, and strongly implied the new visitation schedule would be vastly against his favor should that come to pass.
On that day I realized I never wanted to be a family lawyer.
Edit: tl;dr: Father threatens to kill family dog if he doesn't get weekend custody of the kids and wins custody in court.
Family law legal assistant here: A client of ours included a chunk of pork in the freezer in her list of assets that she insisted she get back.
The lawyer on the other side came back with "Respectfully, I'm not going to argue over second hand meat in a freezer"
I'm the child in this case, but when my parents where divorcing I got a part time job at 15. The divorce dragged on for years, and I wanted to save money for college.
Well the ass wipe I have to call a sperm donor took my mom to court, for MY WAGES! Arguing he should get half my pay check.
The judge laughed him out of court and gave my mom the increase in child support she wanted.
Father wanted full custody of his child. Child was in full mother's custody. Child has diabetes. Both parents must fill a daily glucose intake measured by glucometer. Everytime father dropped the child at moms, he would buy a snickers or twix on the way there and feed it to the kid. Then we flipped out the glucose measurings during court. Due to the measurings being extremely high when the child was at moms we were able to get the child to the fathers full custody. I didn't knew what he was doing. I certainly didn't advise him to do it. He just bring it to the courthouse and ordered me to present it.
Either that or that time where during divorce a guy had exact knowledge of how many toilet paper sheets his wife was overusing and how many litres of warm water she overused.
The worst I was ever a part of:
In California we have certain requirements to meet before one parent can move away with the child. This requirements kick in when the other parents visitation will be materially impacted by the move.
My client is mom. She is a dental hygienist. She has kids with dentist 1 and divorces dad for dentist 2. She wants to move with the kids to dentist 2's town so she can work for him, live closer to work, etc.
Dentist 2s town is a 25 minute drive away from Dentist 1s town. 25 minutes.
Between the two of them, the two dentists must have spent nearly 400k fighting over a 25 minute move. This was also the moment I realized I made a terrible mistake becoming a lawyer when I should have become a dentist.
Bonus: Saddest behavior I have personally seen: Mom creating fake sexual abuse stories and dropping hints to the pediatrician, in turn causing the pediatrician to call CPS about dad. All worked out in the end, Mom lost custody because of her actions after it all came out.
Double bonus: Funniest thing I ever saw: Rich, breadwinning Wife refused to pay husband spousal support because "Those laws were written to protect housewives! He's not a housewife! This is insane!"
Dad was always bitter about child support.
We were latch-key kids growing. One summer while I was playing with friends in the neighborhood, my dad came to our house with his new wife. My younger sister let him in. (It's daddy!)
He proceeded to remove as much furniture from the home as he he could get into the back of his Chevy pickup. Including our deep freezer, which he emptied on to the ground before removing. (And broke in the process.) He even took furniture my mom had been given by her aunts and mother.
I called the cops, but they thought a kid was upset his dad was moving away, so they were slow to respond. I called my mom and she raced home.
By the time my mom arrived, my dad was gone. She finally got the cops to come out. Dad did get arrested that night, and we got our stuff back. Mom dropped charges, but his post office check started having automatic child support payments deducted.
He also asked me to live with him once, but I found out it was all an effort to discontinue child support since each parent would have one child. I knew my mom couldn't afford to do without it, so I stayed.
My dad repeatedly took my mom to court in an effort to lower his child support payments.
Family court raised it almost every time to match his current income.
I knew a judge who was a real family man. He got assigned to divorce court. If he thought parents were using custody over the kids as a weapon, he'd tell them to figure it out civilly over a weekend or he'd put the kids in the courts' custody. He refused to allow children to be used as weapons. He eventually asked to be reassigned because he couldn't abide watching vicious people try to destroy each other and hurt their kids in the process. It was physically making him ill.
I practice law - not usually family law, but I have a case of my own right now.
My grade school-aged son took an entrance exam for a gifted student program. He has been offered a spot in the program, but it will require switching to a different school (within the district) next year if he joins. The program is well regarded in town - one person whose kids went through it described it to me as a "quality private school education for free."
I have to go to court in a few weeks to argue over whether our son should join the program. His mother - who signed him up for the test, and called it the most important day of his life - has now decided he shouldn't join it. I don't know why. She's made some half-hearted arguments that he couldn't handle it, and that she'd have to do too much driving. But I suspect it's just because I'm in favor of it.
This is getting me really down - it's a great opportunity for our son, and she just...doesn't want to agree.
The ex-husband didn't want to pay what he owed his ex-wife. He thought he could fuck her over by dragging on the process with appeals. He was not only hurting her but also his children. She desperately needed the money, and he knew that. Him dragging the process caused her to lose her job and have to move back with her parents. But once he paid she not only moved out, but bought a house, no not just like applied for a loan and got a house.. straight out paid cash for a full house. In the end he not only had to pay the full amount of what he owed, but child support, his lawyer fees and her lawyer fees.